As a founder never use your gmail to talk to investors

I'm going to leave longer write-ups for the weekend, but try to post more often during the week, since content is a matter of discipline.

 

Here is some short advice for founders: I see this happening every week or so. Do not use your gmail to communicate with investors! You lose the opportunity of advertising your startup on the URL, look professional and mainly, you miss giving the investor a chance to dig deeper if he chooses to do so.

Before looking at a deck, if you cold email me with something interesting, the first reaction on my flow is to go take a look at your website.

I validate every email via Rapportive, so generally, I'm always able to put a face to a name if/when this happens and the person on the other side has their email connected to their LinkedIn account.

As an active early stage investor (we typically sign one term sheet every 2 weeks) I am in talks with over 60 companies on any given week. This would make life easier and make founders look better.

Exception goes for founders that have a personal relationship with the investor, so he is familiar with the person and project/business they are working on.

ps — I am just talking about @gmail addresses not Google Apps. Thanks for pointing that out Adolfo Builes.

pss — Gmail is still the best email host out there due to it's search capability, plug-in ecosystem and spam filter. Too bad it's so slow.

Time Management as a young VC

For those that don’t know yet, after four incredible years, I’ve left SendGrid to join the investment team at FundersClub. It’s been three months since I’ve started this new path and I could not be more excited.

Quickly I realized that time management is a crucial part of being a good VC.

It’s quite tempting to mentor, assist, attend as many events/meetups/message board/lists/founders as possible. To promise yourself that you’ll read and study everything, that you’ll take every meeting.

Being “default to yes” is a poor strategy.

Once people understand that you have access to capital, you get twice as many messages, invites and requests for coffee/beer/meetings etc.

Focus is key. Here are some things I applied to my daily routine and have proven to be quite helpful (some weekends included).

Makers Schedule vs Managers Schedule

Inspired by this Paul Graham essay, I made a decision, as a morning person, that I will dedicate my AMs to the following things:

1 — Excercise/Meditate (very important for energy levels/happiness)

I started training with a personal trainer and the results have been fantastic. Certainly won’t pay this much for exercise ($50 a session) during this year, but it made exercise a requirement to my focus/energy levels. Still need a bit more discipline on the meditation side.

2 — Most Important Tasks of the Day / Writing Investment Memos

Once I’ve eaten breakfast, exercised and read a bit of news I’ll go ahead and focus on the most important tasks of the day. I use an Eisenhower Matrix template, saved as an Evernote favorite note. For all other to-dos, I use WundersList + Email Reminders. For group tasks that need visibility, we use Asana.

Here is an example:

3 — Process Email/ Messages (no explanation required).

You can consider these activities, my “maker time”.

How do we manage to advise so many startups on the maker’s schedule? By using the classic device for simulating the manager’s schedule within the maker’s: office hours. — PG

Parsing my day out and knowing that I’ll have that block of time “to get shit done” is very comforting from a mind perspective. It allows you to work with little interruption (often done from my apartment in the Mission or Progressive Grounds coffee shop) —

I take 90% of my meetings in the afternoon and try to follow up on all the pending items, the very next day. In the beginning is hard, but once you get used to this flow, you realize you can scale yourself, pretty rapidly.

By the way, if you also want to become an investor, we are hiring for another associate.

Why you should become a morning person

It's possible amigos. I used to think that becoming a morning person was something reserved for Yoga teachers and Buddhist monks. It's the first Monday of 2015 I woke up at 4:30 AM. Not back at the regular 7AM gym sessions, but going on a run tomorrow. 

I must say, it feels glorious. 

It's about focus

Most of the people that self-proclaim as night owls are the creative types. Developers, designers and very busy founders. They say that they can only focus when nobody interrupts them. When it's quiet and silent. 

One thing I can guarantee you is that in the very early AM, nobody texts you. Nobody is messaging and you have 2-4 hours of delightful focus to go deep on anything you want. 

The advantage of doing it in the morning instead of late-nights is that you can still function for the next 10-12 hours and operate with the rest of the universe. 

Happy 2016. This will be the year of focus & abundance. 

Acelera Startups Documentary about Silicon Valley

About a month ago Cláudio Britto from Acelera Startups paid  a visit at our office in San Franciso.

I recorded an interview with him that will be a part of a documentary about Silicon Valley that he's been working on. 

Great content. Looking forward to see the full movie. You can check out the preview below.

One small observation: wish I had been told that most of the participants would be talking in English, so I would not have given my interview in Portuguese. 

If you don't speak Portuguese, sorry for the inconvenience. 

LinkedIn Passive Aggressiveness

Last week I faced an awkward situation over LinkedIn messages.

One person (which I won't name) was doing one of the most distasteful things in business etiquette. They wanted to meet without communicating the "why" behind the intent and when questioned about it, replied with a passive aggressive tone. Arrogance will never work. 

Most people I know in Silicon Valley have in general 5-7 meetings a day, divided in 30 minutes slots and some buffer for longer encounters.  I personally divide my schedule into maker and manager schedule. Mornings matter a lot, that's when I meditate, cook, exercise and tackle the most important task of the day. I don't like morning meetings because they break my flow. 

Fortunately, I am at a point in my career that I can be selective on meetings. The approach of being default to yes, was wonderful a couple of years ago. It's not functional anymore. 

Think before you send people a note. Ask great questions or explain things like:

  • This is who I am
  • This is what I am working on
  • This is why I would like to meet 
  • Date / Time / Method Suggestion 
  • Provide a way out and be polite

I work hard to be one of the most responsive people on earth. Sometimes I miss control of my inbox, but it does not take more than 1.5 week for me to get back to people. 

This specific person was so aggressive and rude when I kept pushing for the answer to this questions that I feel sorry for the ones that actually pay their organization to do some of those distasteful tours of Silicon Valley. Respect and effectiveness are king. 

 

My First Public Talk in Spanish

For a while I was the only person at SendGrid responsible for growing the company internationally, specially in Latin America. In less than one year with no sales team, we got over 7,000 clients, including Walmart Brazil and Rakuten Brazil. 

Since I was running solo my strategy was a combination of community building, PR, thought leadership and word of mouth while yielding 2 factors. Silicon Valley prestige combined with solid SaaS growth. Basically telling a good story and making us look sexy for the 0.1% of elite founders and investors.

No Back to my First Talk in Spanish  


We hosted an event in Buenos Aires for startups, founders and developers. Our "usual" SendGrid growth Meetup.  Martin Vivas, a major startup connector in Argentina was kind enough to connect us with MSFT Argentina and we setup our event at their fancy Puerto Madero offices. Gracias! 

As you can see I spoke with a recent dislocated shoulder since I had the stupid idea of running a Thought Mudder during my flight connection in LAX. Traveling to 2 countries in Latam, with 36 meetings in 5 days while not being able to raise my arm was a humbling experience. I had to ask for help and assistance for more than 40 people total. It made me more present, focused only on the activities with the highest outputs. 

It turned out bueno. Un Saludo!

Talk Given in October, 2014 at Microsoft Buenos Aires at SendGrid Growth Meetup. To learn more about SendGrid go to sendgrid.com and about Pedro go to pedrosorren.com



5 Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done

I spent a decent amount of time this weekend browsing VCs websites and blogs, trying to learn as much as possible. It was quite interesting. 

By far the simplest and most effective one was Bloomberg's Beta manual (not the website). It's hosted on GitHub as a ReadMe file. It's well written and minimalist. Love it. 

This year I was one of the 300 15' Future Founders and that came as a delightful surprise. 

I found a link to this presentation on their website and am reposting it here. The following slides are a great representation of my personality and of some of the people I respect the most in life. 

Onward and Happy Monday. 

Pedrosorren.com Week in Review #04 (May 3rd - May 10th)

 

I have been failing miserably at having the discipline to send the weekly reviews. So this is another attempt to recreate this habit. Thank you for paying attention and, as always, please reply with interesting insights that you might have. 

#SwiftClasses

Some of you may know that I made the decision to learn how to code and ship a very simple meditation related app before Q3 starts. I've been taking classes twice a week at General Assembly here in San Francisco. 

GA is not a great school. I think my teacher is a great coder, but terrible at teaching. I'd rather have someone that is not a genius engineer but is good with people. The online tutorials combined with the super helpful TAs are a good combo and since it's not a cheap course it gives the necessary discipline to get things done. 

#UdemyCourse 

I am very excited about this side project. Lately, I've been collaborating with Reinaldo Normand, one of my mentors and dear friend. We are doing an online video series about how to move to Silicon Valley as a foreigner. There will be a free, beginners guide and a paid exclusive course for the most advanced folks out there.

If you are a student, entrepreneur or want to come as an executive, fill this survey out. The reception on this has been tremendous and just with the idea we have over 65 students interested in doing the course. 

#Uno

During the past 2 weeks, Uno has not seen any progress. In between work and side projects + GreenCard, it just did not become a priority. 

#Exercising

I gained some weight this past couple of weeks. Not a lot, but it sucks. This week I am back at eating better and exercising. I have already separated my gym clothes for the entire week and after this email will cook most of my meals. 

#500Startups 

Last week I was a keynote at WMD.co. It was the first time I did public speaking for over 400 people in Silicon Valley at a premier conference, and I am happy to say that my slides are the top 5 most accessed after the conference. You can check them out here. 

Have a wonderful week. Meditate, hug people and follow your dreams. 

Onward,

@pedrosorren

 

Man's Search For Meaning Review as a Startup Founder

Recently my close friend Doug Gould recommended a book that I finished about 5 weeks ago. Excellent read. 

I took comprehensive notes, but only now decided to write about it. Man's Search for Meaning is a global best seller and famous for being the book that inspired Tony Robbins to become a coach. 

Purpose and Drive

Viktor Frankl wrote this book during his years at several concentrations camps in Nazi Germany. It's about human nature, coping with suffering, survival, but mostly, it's about finding purpose and coping with adversity, but definitely not a self-help book (nothing against them, by the way). The elements his theory called logo-therapy are great fundamentals for surviving as a founder.

When Nietzsche said "He who has a why can bear with almost any how", he was probably was not thinking about hackers and product builders, but it one can certainly relate.   

My grandfather was my first real mentor. The reason I ended up in tech is mostly due to him and he doesn't even own a smartphone. That said, he always reinforced the importance of skilled knowledge combined with a  fearless attitude. "With that life can take away everything and you would still have enough to rebuild yourself", he used to say. Viktor touches that aspect of the book multiple times, how the ones that survived were the ones that knew that the experience of the camp would serve a purpose. Mentally they never gave up. 

We have so much power, even when we are powerless. Believe me, I've worked for many poor managers in my life and I've always had the choice of either reacting in a positive grateful way (by using my time and focus on other projects) or to be resentful and angry with my current situation.

Entrepreneurs must get used to the "default NO's" from society. We must be built to last. 

There were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
— Viktor Frankl

When trying to summarize what provides us purpose in life, Frankl listed 3 of the main logo-therapy principals:

1 - Creating a work or doing a deed 

For founders this is probably the easiest one to relate with. Creating something from scratch and seeing it come to life is probably one of the most satisfying things in life. Either when it's an app, service or hardware. I'm sure that musicians get off of that as well (I did when we had our high school band). On a higher ground this is about leaving a legacy in the world, about surpassing our imminent fear of death and becoming immortal trough high impact work. 

2 - By experiencing something or encountering someone

Love. Nothing like feeling appreciated and loved by others. I've recently started a relationship with a very special woman and  although we are many miles away from each other, this immense feeling of joy is there every-time we interact. 

3 - The attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering 

I haven't met anyone in life that has achieved something that is worth doing without some level of pain. Overcoming adversity is all about how you react to what happens in your life. 

Onward. 

Procrastinating Your Own Success

Currently I am in Rio for Carnaval for a very small break with friends, people I care & love. Usually, when you remove yourself from your day to day, the best conclusions come to life. 

During the flight here I had the immense pleasure of sitting right next to a dear friend of mine that recently quit his job at Salesforce and is about to go on a world travel adventure trough Asia. On parts of this trip, he'll finish his program at Tony Robbins coaching university in Bali and will become an advanced certified life coach. 

He is following his purpose with courage. 

We had a pretty deep conversation about where I was in life, how some of my personal friends and acquaintances went to become multi-millionaires entrepreneurs and that I felt a little stuck. 

I've always been a huge proponent of productivity and self-improvement. Thus the 1% better manifesto. But somehow, during our conversation he clearly demonstrated to me how disconnected I was from the "old Pedro" - that started two companies and hustled his way to Silicon Valley as a 1st generation immigrant. 

I've been procrastinating my success for the past 14 months. It's evident, loud and, unfortunately, super extra clear. I am also doing this great 67 Steps from @Tailopez. 

Probably the best thing that he mentions during his entire program is that one of his signatures quotes:

“Everybody wants the good life, but not everybody gets the good life”.
— @tailopez

It's time to earn my success and work harder. Time to get myself out of my comfort zone, follow my purpose and live the dream. 

It won't be easy, but very fun. Onward.